Friday, May 13, 2016

Culinary Croatia Calls, via Guest Blogger Dottoressa -- And What a Delicious Call It is!

Most of my readers will already know Dottoressa from her regular generous and thoughtful comments, and you will also have had the chance to read her recent Guest Post here where she tells us about coffee culture in Croatia, Zagreb more specifically.  A few weeks ago, she wrote an entertaining and informative post sketching her personal history of fashion in a country that has gone through significant political and economic change in her lifetime -- you can read that post over on Lisa's blog, Amid Privilege. And now I'm excited to introduce the first in a short series she's put together on Croatian cuisine. Here she is:

                                                                 What's  in the pot ?
                                          Dottoressa's Guide Through   Croatian Cuisine(s)
Hi ! Frances has kindly invited me (again! Thank you very much!)  to share with you some of our dishes and customs in the kitchen.

Although Croatia is a small country,it  has a lot of different landscapes:beautiful coast  with  more than thousand islands,large plains,picturesque hills and little towns (and a couple of big ones,too),lakes,rivers ,waterfalls and mountains. There is actually not such a thing as "Croatian cuisine“,there are many different regional cuisines,influenced by fresh local ingredients,climate,soil, herbs , spices , our stormy history and our neighbours. There are also excellent wines to accompany the food, I'll tell you about  some of them,but that is a whole new story.

I could write and tell you so many stories and describe so many dishes and  there would be more to tell. I had to make a selection-it is my selection only,my choices! The recipes are traditional ones but with my personal touch. I like to cook ( some traditional dishes and a lot of international ones,food  from all around the world),do it my way and make it simple,easy,tasty and healthy for my family and friends.

Part I
We have to start somewhere,so let it be at the Adriatic Coast:  regions of Istra,Kvarner , Dalmatia and Dubrovnik. The Mediterranean Diet is one of the most healthy and well known in the world. You can see, taste and smell a lot of  influences  from old Greek and Romans to  Italians. It is living and cooking in harmony with the nature.

Here we  use olive oil and  herbs and spices like parsley, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, garlic, nutmeg, lemon and orange zest, oregano, marjoram, and lemon.
It is my favourite cuisine,a lot of dishes I make are from this part of Croatia.I love its simplicity,fish and seafood.  One has to buy fresh,tasty,aromatic ingredients which speak for themselves, full of flavours and then cooking is simple ,you don't have to use a lot of spices,just enough  to accent its  essence.

We still have a lot of open air markets  where farmers sell their products. First spring vegetables are from Dalmatia. After a long winter ,one is craving for green vegetables and salads.

A lot of dishes are similar in all of the regions (maybe slightly  different ) and some of them are characteristic for only one of them. Fresh local ingredients and aromatic herbs, meat (in Istra you can find Boskarin, authentic cattle, prepared as carpaccio, as  stew--served with istrian traditional  pasta,“pljukanci“ or gnocchi- or simply as a steak), fresh fish (we have a lot of varieties of excellent fish) and seafood (scallops near Novigrad are considered to be one of the most delicious in the world,due to the mixture of salty sea waters and fresh river waters), scampi (Kvarner scamp is a real delicacy), adriatic squids (pure perfection,on the grill, with cooked mangold, potatoes, olive oil and garlic, as a side dish). Vegetarians can enjoy spaghetti with homemade tomato“salsa“(fresh ,peeled and hacked tomatoes,cooked with garlic ,parsley and olive oil) . Here we can find self grown plants,like wild asparagus  in April,it's their time and I'm going to prepare Fritatta with wild asparagus for light lunch tomorrow) and (in Istra) world known black and white truffles (underground mushrooms of specific, aromatic and rich taste), served with pasta or grated on steaks.


Frittata with wild asparagus (my version)
If you don't have wild ones,you can make it with the cultivated sort. It would be not the same,but still…
(serves 4-not very hungry person)
1 bunch of fresh wild asparagus
6 eggs (free range,if possible)
2 spring onions (chopped finely)-optional
Salt,pepper
A pinch of cajenne pepper and curcuma-optional
Olive oil
Twist every single asparagus,it will break in two halves,upper,soft,for frittata and the other,hard part,you can use it as an ingredient for soup
Boil  it for a minute or two in boiling water
Sieve
Put the olive oil in a pan,add onions and asparagus,stirr for a while
Add eggs,salt ,pepper,curcuma and cayenne pepper
Stir till it is finished






















Thanks so much, Dottoressa! It looks delicious, and while we have no wild asparagus here, I did notice local ones for sale at our nearest grocery store, and I'm looking forward to testing this recipe with them this weekend. Readers, do let Dottoressa and me know if you try it out as well, and perhaps those of you who have access to wild asparagus could tell us where you get yours. Or do you grow them in your own garden?

We'd also be happy to hear from any of you who have visited Croatia and/or have any experience with Croatian cuisine. Personally, I'm really hoping to hop over to Zagreb one of my next visits to Rome. . . it's really not that far, and now I have a friend there!

I know I don't need to ask you, since you're such a great community, but if you have a minute, please let Dottoressa know how much we appreciate her guest posts (I keep telling her she should start her own blog, but meanwhile, I'm happy to have her visit here) -- and I know she will answer any questions you might have. 

27 comments:

  1. Dottoressa, yum, yum! I have been seeing asparagus in the grocery store so will pick some up today. I used to have an asparagus patch on some unused land behind my house but that is gone now (houses built there).
    Mater, if I find a dish I like (and it is relatively healthy) I will eat it over and over again (until one day I say 'enough')...so I will now confess, and document, I have made the kimchi chahan FIVE times...of course each recipe makes two or three meals. I have alternated this with other things but have been stuck on bowls of grain/veg/protein for months. I need an frittata!

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    1. Thanks Georgia!
      If you'll use cultivated asparagus-cut them in smaller pieces.
      I repeat dishes I like usually till my son says: "It's enough now"! But some things are fresh for such a short time!
      Please,tell me about your frittata!
      D.

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  2. I have been to Dubrovnik twice and a happier place would be hard to find. The food was delicious and fundamentally simple, lots of beautiful fish and abundant vegetables, a treat for this pescatarian. My favourite: blitva. Chard and potatoes and olive oil. I could eat that by the bucketful. Cold beer. Great coffee. And ice cream. Oh, lordy. The ice cream.

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    1. Thank you very much Annie! I simply adore Dubrovnik,too! It has become very expensive but you have to move from Stradun (main and beautiful street- explanation for other readers,you know it,of course) and there still are superb restaurants with excellent food !
      I could live my whole life with fish and vegetables
      Although,every visit to London is fatal for my weight-scones and clotted cream!
      D.

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  3. Dottoressa, you have inspired me. Dinner tonight! I have (cultivated) asparagus, free-range organic eggs, fresh chives (from my balcony). I don't have curcuma. I visited Dubrovnik on a cruise ship and I would love to spend more time in Croatia.

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    1. Thanks Madame!
      You don't have to add curcuma,it is only my variation (because of colour!). You may cut asparagus in small pieces.
      I (objectively :-)!) think that you would enjoy the other parts in Croatia,too
      D

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  4. Thank you Dottoressa for an interesting and inspiring post. My daughter is in Montenegro now, heading to Dubrovnik in a few days! Can't wait to see her pics and hear what she ate! Thank you for sharing your platform Francis! (So enjoy your blog, but please forgive my sporadic comments!)

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    1. You are welcome Diane!
      Montenegro is beautiful!
      If you could,let her know to explore small streets around Stradun,as well - she would see them from The Wall!
      Also,the wall in Ston,small town on Peljesac,near Dubrovnik is the second long wall (after Chinese) in the world . And Ston has some of the best restaurants in Croatia
      I hope she will enjoy her trip very much!
      D

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  5. First of all, I had to read your post at Amid Privilege, Dottoressa. I thoroughly enjoyed that post and it brought back memories of childhood years in Baden-Baden in the 50's when elegance was easy to find and cheap mass-production was still in the future. My mother had a dressmaker who created the most beautiful evening gowns and day dresses and suits - linings that were reflected in a bit of the hat and fabrics that were best described with words used for fantastic food and flowers.
    ......which brings me to this post. I imagined I could smell the herbs you described in the marketplace. The frittata sounds delicious and like something that we would enjoy with a glass of Mosel on the patio on a warm spring evening.
    I look forward to more posts!

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    1. Thank you ,Pondside,for your kind words and your story! Your childhood in Baden Baden was beautiful,I suppose!
      Yes,those were the days :-)......
      I agree with Mosel :-)and I think that our Sipon is very similar to Mosel-so you'll have to try
      D

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  6. Thank you for pitching in Dottoressa! I have never been to Croatia, but my husband has been a couple of times for work. He raved about the food! Next year we hope to do an Eastern Mediterranean cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary; hopefully Dubrovnik will be one of the stops.

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    1. Thank you Patricia (and your husband,too)
      It would be perfect choice for your anniversary!
      D

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  7. This is a great idea Mater . When we travel it is too easy to live on international food & be unaware of what goes on in family kitchens . It is many years since we visited Croatia/Montenegro, or Yugoslavia as it was then , & the food was rather 'limited! in those days ( most wonderful scenery though ) especially for non meat eaters like me . So pleased you posted a recipe I can eat D - will try it .
    Wendy in York

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  8. Thank you Wendy! I'm so sorry that you've had problems during your stay
    There are some vegetarian dishes now,more and more vegetarians natives,too,although there are people who eat a lot of meat.
    Also,there are so many dishes from ,let's say our "povera cucina",without meat,but I suppose that the restaurants didn't want to serve such plain dishes before.
    For example: I love fryed fresh sardines or fresh anchovies- it is a simple,cheap,fisherman's delicious dish-but so hard to find in a restaurant!
    You will see at the end of these posts,I eat and cook very small quantities of meat and love a lot of vegetarian dishes,but it is not so common here :-)
    Dottoressa

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    1. I was in Croatia only briefly, while studying in Udine. I travelled there with friends from Pordenone who knew people in Croatia, which was part of Jugoslavia back then. I remember that I did get to enjoy simple fish dishes, which I love, and the wine was delicious. I'd love to return. If visiting Italy, it is more logical to combine Croatia with northeastern Italy, though nothing there is very far. I live in Montréal Québec, and to fathom the distance between my home and that of materfamilias, you have to think in "Russian" terms.

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    2. Thank you Iagatta! Yes,we are spoiled with our distances-even almost (except Russia :-)!) everything in Europe is so close indeed.
      I liked Udine(but we used to go to Trieste) and have actually visited Pordenone once-but it was long time ago
      D

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  9. I too have read you guest posts on Lisa and Mater's blogs...
    we love a frittata and fresh herbs are really important to achieve that gourmet flavour.
    Have you considered writing your own blog?
    You have a flair for writing and it would be fun getting to know you better.
    Leslie

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    1. Oh dear Leslie,thank you so much for your very kind words! It is a great compliment.
      I am not so sure about it-I love to read your blogs and I'm very happy to find you all. But writing on my own....
      D.

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  10. Thanks so much, everyone, for your enthusiastic reception of this guest post, and thanks so much, Dottoressa for taking the time not only to have written and illustrated the post with photos, but also for generously answering all the comments. I'm sure no one minds if I just leave the Comments to Dottoressa and take advantage of the time off (Thanks for that gift of time DRa.!) -- I'm reading over your shoulders as I pop in from time to time. . .

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  11. Thank you Frances!
    Thank you ladies!
    The pleasure was all mine!
    D.

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  12. I'm late to the reading, but please pass on to Dottoressa my appreciation for her post. I love reading about how other cultures prepare food. So often it's the same ingredients, used differently. Wild asparagus would be delightful.

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    1. Never too late,Lorrie, I'm still here. Thank you very much. I'm the one who also love to read about food (or watch),I find it very interesting . And I like cookbooks (especially with some stories beside recipes).
      The restaurants I visit in other towns as well as at home ,beside the socializing,are also inspiration in food preparing,decoration,fashion choices of other guests......
      Dottoressa

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  13. I had never even considered Croatian food, but, of course, I bet it's delicious. I always love to hear from Dottoressa.

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    1. Thank you,dear Lisa!
      I hope you'll love it.
      D.

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  14. Sorry I'm late commenting Dottoressa. I really enjoyed your post ... Always good to hear from you via Frances. I often make versions of Fritatta ...mine tend to be firmer and can be cut into pieces, lovely for picnics! Wild asparagus sounds delicious although I've never seen it here. It's interesting to hear about life in Croatia from someone who's grown up there ...I'd love to visit one day. It's on my list! :)
    Take care, have a good week.
    Rosie

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    1. Hi Rosie,thank you very much!
      It seems that my answer from yesterday get lost!
      I love any kind of frittata,yours sounds yummy
      All the best
      D.

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  15. Hi Rosie,thank you very much!
    I love all kind of fritatta ,yours sounds yummy!
    Wild asparagus are slightly more bitter and I like the combination
    You have to visit before we become to commercialized!!
    All the best
    D

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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